A senior volunteer for Wikileaks in the US has been detained, questioned and had his phones seized when he returned to the country from Europe, as the FBI steps up its investigation into the leak of thousands of Afghanistan war secrets to the whistleblower website.
Jacob Appelbaum, who has stood in for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange since he was advised not to travel to the US, spent three hours at a New York airport while customs officers photocopied receipts and searched his laptop, and he was again approached and questioned by FBI officers at a computer hackers conference in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Two officers approached Mr Appelbaum after he had given a talk on how to subvert Chinese government internet surveillance at the annual DefCon conference. He declined to talk to them.
This detention by the U.S. government seems like an act of pure naked intimidation without a basis in law. Wikileak actions do not appear tobe in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 793 : US Code - Section 793 and they are protected by the holding of the U.S. Supreme Court in NEW YORK TIMES CO. v. UNITED STATES, 403 U.S. 713 (1971) both linked below. It should be noted that no criminal charges have been filed. They may try to get a judge to jail him based upon civil contempt if he fails to reveal the source of the leaked documents.
John H. Armwood
Related U.S. Statute and The Pentagon Papers Case
- "Any system of prior restraints of expression comes to this Court bearing a heavy presumption against its constitutional validity." Bantam Books, Inc. v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58, 70 (1963); see also Near v. Minnesota,283 U.S. 697 (1931). The Government "thus carries a heavy burden of showing justification for the imposition of such a restraint." Organization for a Better Austin v. Keefe, 402 U.S. 415, 419 (1971). The District Court for the Southern District of New York in the New York Times case and the District Court for the District of Columbia and the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in the Washington Post case held that the Government had not met that burden. We agree.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is therefore affirmed. The order of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is reversed and the case is remanded with directions to enter a judgment affirming the judgment of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. The stays entered June 25, 1971, by the Court are vacated. The judgments shall issue forthwith. So ordered."